Famous South Dakotans

Winner native Mallorie Haley created quite a stir in South Dakota recently when she wowed the judges in an early round of "American Idol" competition. It was a good example of the pride South Dakotans feel when one of our own makes it big.

South Dakota is about as far away as a place can be from the nation’s communications centers in L.A. and New York. And with fewer than 1 million people residing within our vast boundaries, living in South Dakota can feel like living in an extended small town.

For those reasons and more, we South Dakotans get pretty excited when somebody from our state gets even slightly famous. Mallorie Haley’s fame is of the 15-minute variety so far, but if things go well on "Idol," she could join the ranks of the most famous people ever to hail from The Mount Rushmore State.

Here’s a list of some other famous people from South Dakota:

  • Tom Brokaw, television journalist
  • Cheryl Ladd, actress of "Charlie’s Angels" fame
  • George McGovern, 1972 Democratic presidential nominee
  • Hubert Humphrey, former vice president and senator
  • Bob Barker, game-show host
  • Mary Hart, television personality of "Entertainment Tonight" fame
  • Adam Vinatieri, NFL kicker (has made two Super Bowl-winning kicks)
  • Catherine Bach, actress who played "Daisy" on "Dukes of Hazzard" TV show
  • Mike Miller, NBA player
  • Billy Mills, Olympic champion
  • Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of "Little House on the Prairie" books
  • Pat O’Brien, television host
  • Norm Van Brocklin, NFL player

That’s all I can think of right now. If you can think of any more, please share.

Categories: Entertainment

About Author

Seth Tupper

Seth Tupper was born and raised in South Dakota and earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from South Dakota State University in 2001. After college, he worked at a newspaper in Minnesota and then returned to South Dakota in 2003 to join the staff of The Daily Republic in Mitchell, where he is currently the publisher. Seth has won numerous awards for his writing, including the 2007 Outstanding Young Journalist award in the daily newspapers category of the South Dakota Newspaper Association's Better Newspapers Contest. Seth's day-job and freelance work have granted him opportunities to meet hundreds of South Dakotans and travel across much of the state. He also spends a lot of his free time exploring South Dakota's state and national parks, hiking trails and kayak-friendly rivers.


  1. Greg
    Greg 21 June, 2011, 18:07

    I just read about Derek Poundstone who is 28 yrs old and trying to become the World’s Strongest Man. During High School his dad was based at Ellsworth and he trained at the Rapid City YMCA. There is a story this month in Men’s Journal which documents him from Rapid City, South Dakota which is pretty cool.

    Brock Lesnar of WWE and now UFC fame – current heavyweight champion is from Webster, South Dakota.

    Other professional athletes include Eric Piatkowski (NBA basketball) and Mark Ellis (MLB baseball), Becky Hammon (WNBA basketball) and I believe there is a current Olympic skiier…not sure name.

    Tom Daschle is famous politically and John Thune will be most likely if not already.

    The Billy Mills race by the way and the entire story is unbelievable. A must research piece of history for anyone needing motivation.

    Reply this comment

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